[Update: Solution found by Ian – Choose “Manually manage songs and playlists” under iPod Preferences]
I picked up a slightly used iPod off a friend, taking advantage of his need for a 4G clickwheel. and am having a problem. I’ve found a ton of programs that enable me to get music off the iPod, but none that put music on the iPod, except for iTunes. Here’s what I want:
My iPod is “owned” (in both senses) by my computer at home. I then bring it to work and can move the music I’ve ripped at work and add that music to my iPod, in addition to the music I have from home. I don’t want to copy my iTunes library onto my iPod, bring it home, and add it to my home iTunes collection. I just want to put the music on it from whatever computer I happen to be in front of, without losing the music that’s already on the iPod.
But maybe that’s the point. Apple talks about the “digital media hub,” not the digital media network. They want to be at the center of your digital media universe, they don’t want your iPod talking to your Rio talking to your XBox talking to your set-top-box talking to your Linux system. In a digital media network, everything needs to be able to talk to everything, which means Apple loses its place of control.
And don’t think for a second it isn’t about control. Google isn’t finding it for me, but I remember reading a post (probably from Copyfight or The Importance Of…) where the author was told by an Apple rep that even if the music industry hadn’t asked for DRM on the iTunes Music Store they would have insisted on it. That puts them in a place of control, where their store and their player are only interchangeable with each other.
Real recently (and Power Computing before them) did a good job of pointing out Apples need for control by creating a way for the iPod to play music rented from another online music store. You can read this good summery of the silliness of Apple and Real fighting for control, but the bottom line is that Apple will fight tooth and nail for the power that comes with controlling digital music distribution.
Rants about Apple’s power struggle aside, is there any way to add music to my iPod from a computer that isn’t linked to it?

17 responses to “iPod question (and an Apple rant for good measure)”

  1. Actually, it’s simpler than that. If you change your “iPod Preferences” in iTunes from “Automatically update” to “Manually manage” you’ll have the ability to move music from multiple computers to your iPod without deleting the current contents.
    See this Apple support document for detailed instructions on how to do this. Quoting that page, “Manually managing the iPod music library is also helpful if you use your iPod on multiple computers.”

  2. Just make sure you change the settings BEFORE you dock your iPod, otherwise it will just start going before you have the chance to change the setting.
    The way I handle managing songs is by creating a playlist titled the same as my iPod’s icon (“Ben’s iPod”), where I place songs from the library that I want on my iPod, and then tell the iPod to auto-sync to that playlist and not the library. One reason I did this was because there are multiple iPods (and thus differing musical tastes) being managed by the same initial library. Another reason was because the ratings and playcounts don’t automatically update when set in manual mode.

  3. Another thing that I don’t necessarily like is that if this thing is supposed to be a “hub”, why can’t songs be rated differently and playcounts added separately for multiple things (or “spokes”) connecting to this “hub”? I may listen to the same songs as my wife, but that doesn’t mean we share the same opinion of those songs.

  4. I connected my ipod mini to my computer, but it does not appear in the itune, I downloaded the ipod updater but it does not work. How can I transfer music to my ipod again, please help me, thank you.

  5. HI,
    I have just plugged in my ipod with the ‘automatic update’ setting on itunes and it suddenl wiped all of the tunes off of my ipod. I use WinMX to download songs as i find itunes too expensive. Can anyone help me out?
    Cheers, Callum =)

  6. I have a question: you say that “I’ve found a ton of programs that enable me to get music off the iPod”. How the heck did you do that? I downloaded a whole bunch of songs from my dad’s iTunes onto my iPod, but I can’t figure out how to put them on my hard drive so I can burn them onto CDs. Any thoughts would be appreciated greatly.

  7. Hey,
    I’m getting an ipod for christmas and i was wondering when i get it do i have to pay the 99c for each song i download onto it?
    Any answers would b appreciated.

  8. Hiya, im getting an ipod mini and i was wondering if you can transfer existing music files on your computer to your ipod? I use WinMX to download music and i dont know if i can get the files i download onto an ipod. Thanks

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